Chipping Ongar: Schools

Pages 169-171

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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A school teacher at Chipping Ongar was mentioned in 1655. (fn. 1) A school also existed in the town in 1671. (fn. 2)

By will dated 1678 Joseph King (d. 1679) left five cottages on the west side of the High Street, producing £35 3s. a year, in trust for educational purposes. (fn. 3) From the income £10 a year was to be paid to a schoolmaster for teaching 6 poor boys; £5 as a premium for an apprentice to be chosen annually from among these boys, or £5 a year for four years to the parents of a boy 'who should prove to be of rare and extraordinary parts and like to make a good minister'; £2 to a mistress for teaching 4 poor girls; £1 for providing bibles for poor families; 10s. for a trustees' audit and dinner and 4s. for the sexton to keep clean a tablet in the church recording the bequest. Any surplus was to provide teaching for more poor children.

In 1714 £10 was being used to maintain a boys' school with 26 pupils and £2 for a girls' school with 12 pupils. Both schools were further supported by voluntary contributions. (fn. 4) The boys' school evidently flourished in subsequent years, in 1755 having some 100 pupils. The master was then offering a secondary schooling to fee-paying pupils as well as teaching the 6 free pupils. (fn. 5) In 1779 the 'Free School' was apparently situated in the High Street. (fn. 6)

Early in the 19th century boys and girls were being taught by a master and a mistress in a single establishment, probably in one of the trust cottages, which the master rented for £14 in 1835 and was still occupying in 1841. (fn. 7) The free pupils seem to have varied in number according to the amount of surplus income from the trust: there were 15 in 1807, (fn. 8) 19 in 1818, (fn. 9) and 16 in 1833. (fn. 10) In 1835 the income from the charity was £74 7s. a year. The schoolmaster received £16 13s. 4d. for teaching 10 free boys, with an additional allowance of 7s. a boy for books and stationery. (fn. 11) He also took paying pupils: in 1833 there had been 20 of these. (fn. 12) Only one boy had recently been apprenticed: a premium of £21 had been paid for him to a shoemaker. (fn. 13) In 1835 £2 was also being paid to a mistress to teach 4 girls. (fn. 14) The trustees had a balance in hand of £204 11s. (fn. 15) The children entered the school at 6 or 7 years of age on the nomination of trustees, and left at about 14. (fn. 16) The school seems to have been under Anglican control, as it was in 1871. (fn. 17)

In 1846 a new school was built behind the trust cottages. (fn. 18) It had accommodation for 63 pupils but no teacher's residence. (fn. 19) By 1870 it had not received a parliamentary grant and its growth had been slow owing to the success of the local private schools; (fn. 20) only 66 attended it in 1871. (fn. 21)

An inspector reported in 1871 that the school was adequate to the needs of Chipping Ongar, but would require enlargement to accommodate 30 children from Shelley, which had no school of its own and which he suggested should be united with Chipping Ongar in a single School District. (fn. 22) In 1873, therefore, the school was enlarged at a cost of £320 (fn. 23) and began to receive an annual parliamentary grant. (fn. 24) By 1877 there were over 100 pupils, including the 6 free boys. (fn. 25) Children also attended from Greenstead when the school there was closed. (fn. 26) In 1893, when there was accommodation for 172 children, the average attendance had reached 127. (fn. 27) In 1904 there were 162 pupils, 4 teachers, of whom one was certificated, and a needlework super- intendent. (fn. 28) The trust income had risen from £74 in 1863 to £82 in 1898 (fn. 29) and the annual grant from £27 in 1873 to £108 in 1893 and £131 in 1902. (fn. 30) After the Education Act of 1902 the school passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Ongar District, as a non-provided mixed school. Its pupils continued to increase; in 1913 the accommodation and average attendance were each estimated at 172. (fn. 31) Meanwhile, in 1905, King's Charity had been divided into 'King's Educational Foundation' and 'King's Charity for Bibles and Sexton' (see below, Charities).

In 1909 the Board of Education had urged that the school should be enlarged. (fn. 32) The trustees hesitated to spend the £1,500 estimated as the cost of the required rebuilding (fn. 33) and when in 1911 the Essex Education Committee published its intention of providing a new school in the town, (fn. 34) they decided to offer the existing school to the Education Committee for use as a County school. (fn. 35) The Education Committee accepted transfer in 1913 and, after extensive rebuilding, opened the new school in June 1915 with accommodation for 278 pupils. (fn. 36) By 1929 average attendance had risen to 188. In 1936, when a senior school was opened in the town, the primary school was reorganized for mixed juniors and infants, the average attendance falling to 143 in 1938. (fn. 37) In May 1952 there were 315 pupils and 9 teachers. (fn. 38)

The school lies behind the Budworth Hall and the trust cottages. It is single-storied, mainly of yellow brick and with a partly tiled, partly slated roof. The greater part of the 1846 building is incorporated in it. An adjacent building, of green corrugated iron, was erected in 1913 to accommodate the children while the rebuilding took place. (fn. 39) King's Trust is administered by 12 trustees, with the rector as chairman. In 1951 its income was £287, of which £163 was paid in educational grants. (fn. 40)

Ongar County Secondary School was built by the Essex Education Committee at the north end of the town on the road to Dunmow and was opened as a senior school for the district in 1936. It had accommodation for 520 children. (fn. 41) Attendance subsequently increased and in 1948 temporary accommodation was provided for 90 pupils. (fn. 42) In May 1952 there were 25 teachers and 550 children. (fn. 43) Pupils are drawn from 18 primary schools. The buildings are of red brick. The garden is about 1 acre in size and the playingfields about 12 acres. (fn. 44)

In the early 19th century local churchmen seem to have devoted their attention more towards the maintenance of their Sunday school than to the expansion of King's Trust School, possibly because the latter enjoyed an assured income. The Sunday school existed as early as 1807 (fn. 45) and in 1815, when 115 children attended it from Chipping Ongar, Greenstead, Shelley, and Stanford Rivers, it received £31 in annual subscriptions. (fn. 46) An infants' school was also set up, apparently under Anglican direction, in which in 1846-7 a mistress taught 45 children; (fn. 47) it was possibly the same infants' school which in 1873-4 was situated at the north-east of Ongar Bridge. (fn. 48) The Independents also maintained a Sunday school, which was attended in 1833 by 50 children. (fn. 49) The rector reported in 1846-7 'the educational wants are well supplied'. (fn. 50)

Throughout the 19th century private schools flourished in the town. In 1807 the curate reported that there were two girls' schools and a boys' school, the latter attended by 60 pupils. (fn. 51) In 1818 there were said to be 4 schools with 60 pupils altogether. (fn. 52) A more detailed survey in 1833 notes the existence of 6 day schools with 82 pupils, a boarding-school with 13 boys, and a dissenting boarding school with 7 girls. (fn. 53) In 1845 there were said to be 11 schools in the town, including the King's Trust school, with 140 daily and 95 Sunday pupils. (fn. 54) In 1855 a 'seminary' was being conducted by the Misses Noble. (fn. 55) It is possible that this was the 'school for ladies' which in 1866 was run by Mrs. Julia Webster. (fn. 56) In 1872 a 'school for ladies' was being held at Roden House, and offered 'every branch of English . . . together with the accomplishments'. (fn. 57) In 1874 this school was being conducted by Emily Willets, and in 1890 by Amy and Edith Bishop. (fn. 58) About 1910 it moved up the road to Holmlea, still under the control of the Bishops, but it seems to have come to an end soon after. (fn. 59)

The most important private school in the town was Ongar Grammar School, said to have been founded in 1811 by William Stokes, M.A. (fn. 60) This was probably the boarding-school which had 13 boys in 1833 (see above). In 1845 it was known as Ongar Academy, and the proprietor was Richard Stokes. (fn. 61) Among the pupils in 1846-7 were Nathaniel and Walter Barlow, sons of Dr. Nathaniel Barlow of Blackmore. In September 1847 Walter wrote to an elder brother Alfred: 'Tomorrow and the following day we are going to have two lectures on Electricity and Galvanism by Mr. Thornthwaite, a lecturer from London. We have 41 young gentlemen, 3 of which are day boarders and 1 weekly boarder. . . .' (fn. 62)

A school magazine was started in September 1869. The three (weekly) numbers which have survived show that there were then three assistant masters in addition to the head, Dr. Clark. (fn. 63) There were athletic clubs, libraries, a fencing-club, and an elocution society. Advertisements include the request for a 'chain for a sparrow-hawk'. In 1878 William Clark was headmaster. There were then 130 boarders. (fn. 64) In 1899 the headmaster was Oswald Clark, M.A. (fn. 65) At the 1911 census there were 164 children at the school. (fn. 66) In the following year the principals were O. W. Clark, M.A., and Benjamin Brucesmith, LL.D. (fn. 67) In 1926 the principal was Percival H. Bingley and the 'Director of Studies' was William Attlee, M.A. There were 7 assistant masters; the rector acted as chaplain. (fn. 68) By 1937 P. H. Bingley and Thomas A. Owen, B.A., M.R.S.T., were joint principals. There was provision for 140 boarders and there were two university leaving scholarships of £30 a year, tenable for 2 years. (fn. 69) The school closed about 1940. (fn. 70)

The Grammar School was situated on the west side of the High Street at the north end of the town. The tithe map (c. 1841) shows a number of buildings on this site. They were all owned by Richard Stokes, who also owned the adjoining Little Bansons. (fn. 71) Between that time and 1874 a large new building was erected. (fn. 72) In 1937 the school was said to include music and recreation rooms, gymnasium, swimming-bath (added in 1885), carpentry shop and rifle-range with playingfields and grounds of over 100 acres. The boarders were accommodated in 3 houses. (fn. 73) The main Grammar School building fronts upon High Street and has an imposing symmetrical façade. (fn. 74)


  • 1. E.R.O., Q/SO 1, p. 210a.
  • 2. E.R.O., Q/RTh 5.
  • 3. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, pp. 237-8 (1835), xxi (1); V.C.H. Essex, ii, 560. For King see above, Church.
  • 4. S.P.C.K. Acct. of Charity Schs. 1714, p. 27.
  • 5. Ipswich Jnl. 24 May, 21 June 1755.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/DQk 1.
  • 7. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), p. 238; E.R.O., D/CT 262.
  • 8. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4.
  • 9. Retns. on Educ. of Poor, H.C. 224, p. 264 (1819), ix (1).
  • 10. Educ. Enquiry Abstr. H.C. 62, p. 284 (1835), xli.
  • 11. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), p. 238.
  • 12. Educ. Enquiry Abstr. (1835), p. 284.
  • 13. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), p. 238.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Ibid.
  • 17. Retns. Elem. Educ. H.C. 201, pp. 112-13 (1871), lv.
  • 18. E.R.O., D/CT 262; White's Dir. Essex (1863); O.S. 6 in. Map (1st edn.), sheet li (surveyed 1873-4); E.R.O., T/P 96: Ongar W.E.A. Survey. A stone bearing the date of foundation lay in 1951 in the cul-de-sac between Ongar Grammar School and Little Bansons.
  • 19. Retns. Elem. Educ. (1871), pp. 112- 13; V.C.H. Essex, ii, 561.
  • 20. E.R.O., D/AEM 1/1/1; Min. of Educ. File 13/66.
  • 21. Retns. Elem. Educ. (1871), pp. 112- 13.
  • 22. Min. of Educ. File 13/66.
  • 23. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899), 284.
  • 24. Essex Standard, 28 Oct. 1874.
  • 25. R. I. Porter, Notes on Chipping Ongar, 21.
  • 26. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899), 284.
  • 27. Retn. of Schs. 1893 [C. 7529], p. 713, H.C. (1894), lxv.
  • 28. Essex Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904.
  • 29. White's Dir. Essex (1863), 738; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899), 284.
  • 30. Essex Standard, 28 Oct. 1874; Retn. of Schs. 1893, 713; Schs. under Bd. of Educ., 1902 [Cd. 1490], p. 68, H.C. (1903), li.
  • 31. Min. of Educ. File 13/66.
  • 32. Inf. from Mr. D. W. Hutchings.
  • 33. Essex County Chron. 1 Dec. 1911.
  • 34. Ibid. 20 Oct. 1911.
  • 35. Min. of Educ. File 13/66.
  • 36. Inf. from Mr. F. H. Barker, Headmaster of Chipping Ongar Primary School.
  • 37. Min. of Educ. File 13/66.
  • 38. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 39. Inf. from Mr. F. H. Barker.
  • 40. Inf. from Mr. D. W. Hutchings.
  • 41. Min. of Educ. File 13/66.
  • 42. Min. of Educ. File 13/66.
  • 43. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 44. Inf. from Mr. J. W. Butler, Headmaster of Ongar Secondary School.
  • 45. E.R.O., D/AEM 1/1/1.
  • 46. Nat. Soc. Rep. 1815, p. 40.
  • 47. Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Church Schs. 1846-7, pp. 14-15.
  • 48. O.S. 6 in. Map (1st edn.), sheet li.
  • 49. Educ. Enquiry Abstr. (1835), p. 284.
  • 50. Nat. Soc. Enquiry 1846-7, 14-15.
  • 51. E.R.O., D/AEM 1/1/1.
  • 52. Retns. on Educ. of Poor (1819), p. 264.
  • 53. Educ. Enq. Abstr. (1835), p. 284.
  • 54. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1845).
  • 55. Ibid. (1855).
  • 56. Ibid. (1866).
  • 57. Chelmsford Chron. 5 Jan. 1872.
  • 58. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1874, 1890).
  • 59. Ibid. (1910, 1912, 1914).
  • 60. Ibid. (1937); E.R.O., Prints, Chipping Ongar: p.c. view of Ongar Sch. Stokes does not appear to have been a graduate of any British university.
  • 61. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1845).
  • 62. E.R.O., Typescript, L. A. Barlow, 'The Barlows in Essex 1730-1924', 49-50.
  • 63. E.R.O., Landon Collection.
  • 64. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1878).
  • 65. Ibid. (1899).
  • 66. Ibid. (1912).
  • 67. Ibid.
  • 68. Ibid. (1926).
  • 69. Ibid. (1937).
  • 70. Inf. from Mr. D. W. Hutchings.
  • 71. E.R.O., D/CT 262.
  • 72. Cf. O.S. 6 in. Map (1st edn.), sheet li.
  • 73. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1937).
  • 74. E.R.O., T/P 96, Ongar W.E.A. Survey. The building has now (1955) been converted into business premises.